Poison Apple

poisonappleThere are about a million reasons why I hate my iPhone, but this one pretty much sums it all up.

On my phone, I’ve got quite a few files that were not downloaded from any of my other devices. These include pictures I’ve taken with the phone itself, pdfs I’ve downloaded through the phone’s browser, etc.

Of course, I’d like to have backups of all these files. And of course Apple makes this as difficult as possible by pushing me to use its abysmal iTunes software for creating the backup.

Now here is what iTunes does: I have photo files with names like IMG_0840.jpg — which, if not terribly descriptive, is at least immediately recognizable as a photo. I have pdfs with names like Dirac.QuantumMechanics.pdf, which is a nice, easily recognizable name. I download everything to my computer via iTunes, and here is a partial directory listing of what I get:

Yes, Dirac.QuantumMechanics.pdf has had its name changed to ffcc4678d5e0ab310f88d38926a4922e2b70ed0b. Or perhaps to ffff64402524baf7d1e3bc49780379e69fe69ed0. There is no way to tell which file is which (they are not even arranged in directories that mirror the directory structure on the iPhone) and not even any way to tell which are jpgs, which are mp3s, which are pdfs, etc..

I can, of course, try randomly renaming these files things like “tryit.jpg”, “tryit.mp3″, “tryit.pdf”, etc., and see which ones open. I can do this with each of several hundred files separately. Or alternatively, I can have a life.

So in order to preserve usable backups of my files, I have to download them all over again, bypassing iTunes and hacking around a while to get my computer to believe that the iPhone is a hard drive (which Apple has gone out of its way to make as difficult as possible) and then copy the files over into another directory, which at least preserves their names, while creating exact duplicates of all the files you just saw listed above (and the hundreds of others like them) and thereby taking up twice as much space on my computer hard drive as should be necessary.

(And no, I can’t at this point erase the backups with the stupid names, because if I ever need to restore the state of my phone, it’s rigged so the phone won’t work properly unless you restore from the official Apple backup,)

You should get an iPhone only if either a) you never expect to move files back and forth between your phone and your computer, and in particular don’t care if all the files on your phone are in jeopardy of being lost because there is no decent way to back them up, or b) you are a very particular sort of masochist.

I’m sure this all has something to do with Apple’s paranoia that somebody might steal an mp3 file from the iTunes store, or something like that. I’m sure that if I fully understood the issues, I’d have more sympathy for them than I do. But the bottom line is that from the user’s viewpoint, the iPhone sucks, and if Apple is not evil, then it might as well be.


39 Responses to “Poison Apple”

  1. 1 1 Nathan

    If your hardware is new enough you can transfer the files fairly easily with airdrop. Alternatively, an app such as Dropbox will get the job done.

  2. 2 2 Sub Specie Æternitatis

    Yes, iTunes is an absolutely horrible piece of software. Apple’s hardware is mostly not cutting edge and hundreds of dollars more expensive than similar hardware for Android phones. Yet, we still keep buying iPhones. Revealed preference shows that there must be some other things (iPhone software? eco-system?) sufficiently good to more than offset those genuine and serious drawbacks.

    As for your particular problem, I’d recommend never keeping the only copy of anything not generated on the iPhone on the iPhone. My equivalents of Dirac.QuantumMechanics.pdf, I keep in Google Drive or Adobe Document Cloud (both free for quite extensive usage), leaving them both safe and accessible from everywhere. (The only problem is getting new files *in* to these clouds from the iPhone; I have not been able to discover a way, but always put content into the cloud from a full-fledged computer).

    As to content generated on the iPhone (like photos or videos), I liberate from Apple’s embrace whenever the phone is plugged in, copied to my network file server, which in turn is automatically backed up (in encrypted form) to the cloud, rendering it safe against most contingencies short of nuclear war. All of that is nearly automatic.

    Finally, as to how to identify those silly ffcc4678d5e0ab310f88d38926a4922e2b70ed0b files, there is an ancient command-line utility on Un*x derived systems (like Linux and Mac OSX) called simply ‘file’. Run it on a file with any name and it will make a very good guess at the format, and sometimes even title, and may automatically rename them for you. Surely there is something like that for Windows too.

  3. 3 3 John

    You shouldn’t extrapolate your ignorance.

  4. 4 4 Daniel R. Grayson

    Your post prompted me to investigate how to transfer files from my android phone — there is something called Android File Transfer for the Mac that shows the whole picture, and the files have all their original names.

    If your computer is a Mac or a linux machine, you have a program called “file” that will tell you the type of each file: pdf, jpg, etc.

  5. 5 5 David Pinto

    I was under the impression that files are automatically shared via iCloud. So when my wife takes a picture, in a short amount of time it’s available on her Apple laptop.

    At that point, you could move it to a physical drive on your computer and erase it from the cloud, if you didn’t want it out there for the world to steal with a hack.

    The iTunes backup is not about moving files to your computer, it’s about preserving your phone’s data so that when you drop it in the toilet, you can get a new unit and in a matter of minutes be up and running again.

  6. 6 6 John Hall

    I typically upload my photos to something like Facebook and then download them from there.

  7. 7 7 Doctor Memory

    You are attempting to use a screwdriver to pound in a nail here in the worst way possible. The goal of itunes backups is not to provide you with a usable/browsable/updatable copy of your files both on your computer and on your phone: its goal is to provide a restorable image in the event that your phone is stolen or destroyed. It might be reasonable to want itunes/icloud backups to do this thing, but that is manifestly not what it does.

    If accessible self-organized file synchronization of things like PDFs is what you want, there are multiple tools for that task: Dropbox is the most popular and is largely platform-independent. Dropbox also offers photo synchronization although I have not personally tried it. Apple’s iCloud file sync is built in to iOS but can only sync back to Macs as far as I’m aware. Google and Box also offer products in this space.

  8. 8 8 Bennett Haselton

    My iPhone underlines the word “didn’t” whenever I type it, implying it’s misspelled:

    Some bugs are annoying not because they have much impact, but because they scream “lazy testing.” Among others: There’s a “Back” key on the touchscreen keyboard, and if you accidentally touch it while typing, everything you’ve just typed will get erased, with no way (that I’ve found) to recover it. If you hit the power button while on the Home screen, the phone makes a camera-shutter clicking noise as it goes to sleep — this makes it sound like you’re taking a photo, which can be awkward if you’re in a public place and people think you’re snapping creepshots.

    I went with the iPhone not because I expected it to be the best, but because of network effects — the benefits of using the same smartphone model that most other people are using. My last phone was arguably better, but it was so non-standard that I just got tired of apps and features coming out that weren’t supported or weren’t tested properly on the model of phone I was using, because no one else was using it. In particular, I went with the iPhone because I wanted a case with a slide-out physical keyboard — and those cases are only made for the iPhone, because it’s not economical for the manufacturer to make them for any other phone.

  9. 9 9 Steve Landsburg

    Doctor Memory:

    If accessible self-organized file synchronization of things like PDFs is what you want, there are multiple tools for that task: Dropbox is the most popular and is largely platform-independent. Dropbox also offers photo synchronization although I have not personally tried it. Apple’s iCloud file sync is built in to iOS but can only sync back to Macs as far as I’m aware. Google and Box also offer products in this space.

    Or, of course, there’s the “cp” command, which requires nothing more than a few keystrokes. Except that as far as I can tell, Apple makes this impossible.

  10. 10 10 Frank Lumbar

    Is it fair to blame Apple for what amounts to tech ignorance and user error on your part?

    I mean seriously, who is still doing backups using iTunes? Apple (finally) fixed that like 4 years ago with the launch of iCloud.

    The answers to the rest of your issues can be found via google search.

    Sometimes your machismo and lack of humility seriously detract from an otherwise excellent blog.

    In summary, here is my response to your post:


  11. 11 11 Doctor Memory

    Steven: the problem here is that you are, effectively, using “tar” and complaining that it isn’t “cp”. You can use tar or ufsdump to manage copies of individual files as well as whole-filesystem restores, but it’s not easy and people will look at you funny when you complain about how inconvenient it is. If you want “cp” on a modern mobile platform, dropbox (or one of its competitors) is the simplest option by far.

    More generally it seems like you want a phone that responds to the same workflows you developed around a mid-1970s timesharing system and mid-80s PCs with removable storage. It might be a reasonable thing to want (I use similar tools all the time and I appreciate their simplicity and reliability), but it’s manifestly not the thing that Apple or Google are selling.

    (Screwdrivers and hammers seem like they should be interchangeable: they weigh roughly the same, are roughly the same size and are usually made out of the same materials. And yet screwdrivers are singularly bad at driving nails.)

  12. 12 12 Michael Stack

    You have a few choices:

    1. You can root your phone which will make the entire filesystem accessible to you. THere are security concerns with this, but it’s workable.

    2. As observed by previous commenters, you can use software like Dropbox to manage these files. If you’re actively editing these files on your phone, there is software for that as well.

    3. You could switch to Android, but in exchange for easier file manipulation you will suffer through hundreds of UI inconsistencies and usability issues.

    I love to hack on my Mac and PC but when it comes to my phone, I just want it to work as a smartphone. I had iPhones from the 3G through the 5, and then tried an Android. I cannot wait to go back to an iPhone.

  13. 13 13 Ken

    “Or, of course, there’s the “cp” command, which requires nothing more than a few keystrokes. Except that as far as I can tell, Apple makes this impossible.”

    On your Mac, go to your Applications folder, then the Utilities folder. Voila! A bash terminal. OS X is just a BSD backend with a pretty gui built on top.

    Frank Lumbar’s comment sums up your post pretty well, making the nice observation “Sometimes your machismo and lack of humility seriously detract from an otherwise excellent blog.” Mr. Lumbar’s comment boils down to RTFM.

    The iPhone is simple to use, if you care to take the time to actually learn how to use it. Crying online that other people built things differently than you would have, thus forcing you to, I don’t know, learn how to use the tools you paid someone to make for you, doesn’t exactly speak to highly for your curiosity on actual everyday living.

  14. 14 14 Roger

    Apple always cripples its products in order to lock you into its overpriced products and services. If you don’t like it, why did you buy an iphone?

  15. 15 15 Jon Shea

    It is weird that iTunes’s unencrypted backup gives all of the files 20 byte hex filenames. I’m not sure why it does that, but it’s possible that there is a sensible technical explanation. says the backup filename is the SHA1 of the of the domain and path of the file on the iPhone. I this lets iTunes put all of the files in one flat directory, but I don’t know why they would care about that.

    There are a number of programs that can extract the regular file names from the iTunes backup, like or . These may or may not be easier than the workflow your currently use.

  16. 16 16 BillD

    Apple purposely obfuscates the complexity of directories and files. One can argue about the design. But it mostly works pretty well.

    For downloading photos there are multiple options. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201302

    As others have said you can use Dropbox, Google Drive, Onedrive etc to save any kind of file. There are multiple ways to save, depending on the app and the flow. One frequent way is to push the button of a square with an up arrow through it.

    A good app for managing files (connects to most cloud providers) is PDF Expert. It looks a lot like a traditional file manager. https://readdle.com/products/pdfexpert5

    I’ve not worried about orphaned files for a long time.

  17. 17 17 Glen Raphael

    Go into settings:iCloud and turn “Backup” ON. Henceforth everything on your phone that can’t be recovered from the iTunes Store will get backed up to the cloud the next time your phone is plugged in and has wifi access.

    Then when you buy a new or replacement phone you can restore from the cloud, again wirelessly. I’ve done this several times; it works pretty well. ITunes is not really necessary for backup purposes anymore. It once was, but that was years ago; Apple fixed that dependency as part of a general effort to make it possible for people to use an iPhone or iPad as their ONLY device rather than – as it had previously been – a computer accessory.

    (If you know of some type of data that DOESN’T automatically get backed up to the cloud when cloud backup is turned on, can you be more specific as to what kind of data you’re talking about? Because that would be a serious bug!)

  18. 18 18 Glen Raphael

    Btw, if you’re specifically concerned with PHOTOS on the phone, I would suggest installing Google Photos. Then you’ll have independent backups in the cloud kept by a company that’s not even Apple! (And easily accessible over the web)

  19. 19 19 Steve Landsburg

    First: For all those who suggest backing up to the Cloud, that’s a non-starter. I am not the least bit interested in trusting Apple with my personal files. Ditto for Dropbox.

    Second: A number of you have suggested that the reason for the bizarre file names is that these files are not supposed to be user-accessible; they’re just for restoration purposes in case the phone dies. But — contra Doctor Memory — this is not just like a tar archive, because the individual files *do* correspond to individual files on the phone. As long as the individual files are being stored separately, what harm can come from letting them retain their original names?

    Third: Many of you are addressing this specific problem, which is fair enough, because it’s what I blogged about. But this is part of a whole suite of related problems which are not addressed by your comments. For example: Suppose I have some photo files on my computer, which I want to copy over to my iPhone. I can either a) let iTunes do this, in which case the file names are all changed so that on the phone, I can’t recognize them or b) manually copy them to the iPhone, in which case Apple’s photo renderer refuses to recognize them.

    If I copy the same photos over to pretty much any other device in the universe, and attempt to open them with pretty much any software, they will open. Why should my iPhone be an exception.

    Fourth: let me repeat that everyone who mentioned iCloud, Dropbox, etc as a solution is, it seems to me, ignoring the issue. I have, right here on my desk, two devices connected by a USB cord. Are you telling me that the only effective way to move files from one to the other is first to upload them to the Cloud, trusting someone else to maintain their security? This is not an answer.

    (And fifth — for those who mentioned the “file” command. Yes, this will tell me which files are jpgs. It still won’t tell me which jpgs are which.)

  20. 20 20 Glen Raphael

    I suggested enabling iCloud specifically to answer your concern that people should only get an iPhone if they “don’t care if all the files on your phone are in jeopardy of being lost”. The ideal experience for users is to have their stuff get backed up automatically without having to worry about it; Apple nudges you to use iCloud Backup when you first set up the phone specifically to solve that problem.

    But as for the other thing…

    You apparently would like iTunes to preserve the file contents and also leave the filenames unchanged in the backup directory. My question: if they did that, where would YOU want the programmers to keep any extra file attributes/metadata and a hash checksum to verify that the file contents – including the name – haven’t been corrupted during the backup process? Windows files don’t have a resource fork, so where is that extra stuff supposed to GO so the backup can be copied, moved, recopied, split up across filesystems, brought back together and at the end of all this restored to the phone unchanged, including keeping the correct original file creation date and ownerships? Speaking as a programmer, it seems to me using every available character of the Windows filename to keep file-associated metadata around makes a lot of sense if these files are primarily expected to be read by a program rather than a person.

    If you want to access it, there are programs that will turn the silly name back into a file name. But the silly name is FUNCTIONAL – it is adding real value for the user. The programmers didn’t spend extra effort trying to make your life hard, they merely failed to spend extra effort to address your particular use case since it wasn’t core to what they were trying to accomplish.

    So um, maybe try this? http://www.imactools.com/iphonebackupviewer/

  21. 21 21 Steve Landsburg

    Glen Raphael: What I would like for my iPhone is what I’ve got for my laptop:

    1) When there are files that I want to back up to another machine, I want to be able to copy those files over to the other machine with a few keystrokes. When there are directories that I want to back up to another machine, I want to be able to copy those directories over to the other machine with a few keystrokes. I want those files available both for backup and to access on other devices.

    2) I want to be able to make a bit-by-bit copy of my iPhone’s hard drive so that if that hard drive ever dies, I can open the iPhone and swap out the hard drive for an identical drive that carries that bit-by-bit copy. Ideally, I want them stored on a removable drive exactly the same size as the drive in my iPhone so that in the event of a crash, I can be up and running in an instant. Or they can be stored on my hard drive, so they can do double duty as accessible backups.

    3) Here is the other main point that I did not include in the blog post but is also extremely important: I want to be able to copy files from my computer to my iPhone in exactly the same way that I copy them to any other removable hard drive, without the names changing, and have the iPhone be able to recognize and use those files. Currently, there seems to be no way to copy (say) a photo from my computer to my iPhone, retain its name, and still have the iPhone able to render that photo. (For pdfs, I can do this — I’ve made a directory on my iphone called /var/mobile/pdfs, I copy pdfs into that directory, and I render them with a pdf-reader that I got from Cydia. Why can’t I do this for photos? And why should I have to go through Cydia to do it? Why can’t the native photo software on the iPhone handle a goddam jpg?)

  22. 22 22 Glen Raphael

    iOS is not Windows. Different operating systems have different file attributes, so getting stuff onto and off the phone needs to include some degree of translation. For instance, windows has one set of conventions for deciding what type of thing a file is – like knowing that if it’s got “.jpg” in the name it’s an image file – whereas the conventions for doing that on Mac and on iOS aren’t quite the same. There are also performance hacks (eg, cached preview images) that would break if people move files in manually. So it’s really not reasonable to expect the Apple photos app to magically recognize any photo you throw at it unless you’re expecting them to include a built-in windows-compatibility layer.

    And Windows isn’t just *inherently different*, it’s also a second-class citizen. Providing support for Windows AT ALL was clearly an afterthought. So some of your problems are because you’re outside the Apple ecosystem and some of the rest are because you don’t want to use the tools available (eg, iCloud and Dropbox) that are meant to solve those exact issues.

    (Mac users can drag photos into iPhoto and they get wirelessly synced to the iPhone via the cloud, but alas you can’t do that because iPhoto is Mac-only and you don’t trust the cloud)

    The iPhone doesn’t have a removable hard drive; its memory is in a flash chip that is VERY physically attached to all the rest of the electronics. If something goes very wrong the “restore backup from iCloud” solution gets you up and running in an instant WITHOUT requiring access to a laptop or a USB cable, because it’s smart about restoring things in a useful order – the phone becomes usable within 10 minutes even if though it takes a while longer for all the apps and music to restore.

    Your idea of doing backup by “copying with a few keystrokes” is a huge step BACKWARDS compared to just having the data synced up over the web all the time. Use iCloud or Dropbox and your stuff is backed up with NO keystrokes.

    If you want a removable hard drive, you want a device that is a LOT thicker than an iPhone. If you want easier file migration/integration from Windows, you might do better with Windows Mobile. So why did you pick iPhone in the first place?

  23. 23 23 Steve Landsburg

    Glen Raphael:

    So it’s really not reasonable to expect the Apple photos app to magically recognize any photo you throw at it unless you’re expecting them to include a built-in windows-compatibility layer.

    This makes no sense to me. I’ve got a Windows laptop; my wife has an Apple laptop; I have an iPhone. We have absolutely no problem sharing photos across the two laptops. We can each download the exact same photo file from the web, or one of us can email the other a photo file, etc, and both machines treat them identically. If the iPhone can recognize the same files that the Apple laptop recognizes, and the Apple laptop can recognize the same files that the Windows laptop recognizes, then why can’t the iPhone recognize the same files that the Windows laptop recognizes?

    Moreover, I’ve got multiple Unix shell accounts, and I move photos back and forth between those shell accounts and my Windows box all the time. Again, there is absolutely no compatibility problem. Why is the iPhone the one and only device that can’t handle a jpg without changing its name?

    Re removable hard drives, I hear you and what you say makes sense to me. But re the above, I continue to be utterly baffled.

  24. 24 24 Ricardo Cruz

    #19 Glen Raphael says:
    “if they did that, where would YOU want the programmers to keep any extra file attributes/metadata and a hash checksum to verify that the file contents”

    Let us avoid mindless Apple apologism.

    The reason why they rename filenames is not to avoid having an extra metadata file.

    They must keep an extra metadata file because, if they rename the file, they must at the very least keep the original filename somewhere! (including its locations and a all other attributes)

    The reason why they rename filenames (to their checksums apparently) seems to me to be about avoid conflicting filenames. They do not want the hassle to reproduce the original file hierarchy so they rename to checksum which should, with a very high probability, avoid conflicting filenames.

    #20 Steven Landsburg says:
    “I want to be able to make a bit-by-bit copy of my iPhone’s hard drive so that if that hard drive ever dies, I can open the iPhone and swap out the hard drive for an identical drive that carries that bit-by-bit copy.”

    I am sorry to say but this is impossible in every device. They do not let you access the entire filesystem unless you “root” the device. Rooting the device means creating a “super administrator” account, and in Unix-derived systems the super administrator account is called the root.

    Anyhow, I guess they do not allow this to avoid people piracying software and music and so on. So, you yourself restoring your device (including configuration files and so on) is probably not going to work. You will very likely need an external tools, including for Android too.

    That said, let me be the first to say it, I never used iOS and that sounds like pretty absurd behavior. I can mount my Android in Linux like any other external driver, and access the user-visible part of the disk.

  25. 25 25 Windypundit

    Of course, in a sense, those files you’re talking about aren’t really on your laptop. It’s all just binary data encoded in magnetic domains on a rapidly rotating disk (or if you have an SSD, it’s whatever SSDs use). There was a time in the early days of computing when computer programs and computer users had to understand where the blocks of data were on a disk (or a drum, or a magnetic tape, or a paper tape, or a card deck).

    Eventually, computer users developed an abstraction known as a file. These files contained data and had names. After a while, the files were organized into folders, which were also abstractions. This created a tree structure for the data on a disk. Tree structures turned out to be an incredibly successful abstraction: Users could think in terms of files and folders, and no longer had to worry about all those blocks of data.

    Until something went wrong, and you suddenly found parts of files mixed together. Or you had files that wouldn’t open because the file system structures were corrupt. Or something called fragmentation happened and your computer slowed down. Or you had to worry about these things called partitions, or something called a master boot record… All of a sudden the files-and-folders abstraction began to leak concepts from the level below, and things got a lot more confusing.

    Recently, we’ve started to add new abstractions. Files are now graphical things that you drag around. Files are also tagged with bits of data about the file: Formats, dates, geographic locations, keywords. Under the new abstractions, you can pull up all files of a certain format, or all photos taken within 20 miles of your current location, or all files tagged with the word “kitten.” Names and folders are no longer so important. They are effectively just one more bit of meta data with which files can be tagged. So, for example, photos on your iPhone can be present in multiple albums at the same time.

    Underneath, everything is still built on top of the files-and-folders tree abstraction, because why would we ever give up something that useful? But thanks to the new images-and-tags abstraction, users no longer have to worry about the files-and-folders tree.

    Until something went wrong. Or until you tried to move files between a computer that used images-and-tags land and one that used files-and-folders land. On your phone, it doesn’t matter that the underlying file names are random gibberish (probably used to avoid the problem of two files having the same name) because that’s all hidden by some sort of displayed name tag. And all of a sudden the nice elegant images-and-tags abstraction has begun to leak the lower files-and-folders abstraction all over the place.

    The problem of leaky abstractions is one of the most difficult general problems of practical interface design. When everything works correctly, the interface abstraction is simple and elegant and powerful. But when things go wrong, or when have to do something outside the abstraction, suddenly there are all these new concepts, and there’s an order-of-magnitude increase in difficulty.

    You understood what was going on with the files on your laptop, and how they related to what was on your phone, but imagine someone who had only ever learned about the phone operating system, and who now had to deal with all these files… This is a real problem for Apple. They build elegant abstractions that hide the details from the user, and then one day something happens that makes the details matter…

    It’s taken decades of experience with the files-and-folders abstraction to get things to the point where not too much leaks through from the underlying layer, and when it does we have to tools to handle it. I imagine the iPhone will get there eventually…

  26. 26 26 Advo

    Perhaps the iPhone will get there eventually, however, Google is already there and I don’t really understand how this can pose a problem for iOS if it’s not a problem for Android.

    I don’t like iOS devices for several reasons, but a big part is that I have tremendous problems with iTunes. I still don’t understand how I can reliably add, say, videos to my iPad without accidentally deleting all the videos which are already there. Android devices are just much easier to handle in that regard.
    The last time I tried I added the new videos alright but I simultaneously wiped out all the video content already present on the iPad.
    It’s really infuriating. Overall I consider my Android devices easier to use.
    The only thing that speaks for Apple is the aesthetic elegance of their GUI and their devices. But that’s it. It’s usually possible to find an Android device that is superior in most other respects…and in particular cost.

  27. 27 27 Sub Specie Æternitatis

    Prof. Landsburg, you should give the cloud another chance; it is awfully useful. If you have real concerns about the confidentiality of your files, that can be addressed. Under some schemes, like CrashPlan, the data never leaves your device except encrypted with a key you picked and only you know. So the cloud storage provider couldn’t snoop on you, even if they wanted to or where under legal compulsion.

  28. 28 28 Thomas

    You should get an iPhone only if …

    c) You already have one. Because Apple makes it harder to leave Apple than leaving the mob.

  29. 29 29 Ken B

    Can you import the pdf files into Kindle?

  30. 30 30 Ken B

    I have an iPad mini. Ever since the iOS 8 upgrade it has been awful. Even worse under iOS 9. I just bought a new phone, Android. I will replace the ipad in a while — Android.

  31. 31 31 Frank Lumbar

    So, to summarize Steve’s argument:

    1. The iPhone does not have a file manager that meets my specifications.

    2. The reason it does not is because of a massive Apple conspiracy to prevent users from getting access to MP3 files.

    3. Although I trust my bank to safeguard my cash and my doctor to safeguard my medical records, there is no way that I can trust Apple to properly backup and secure my files. (And, don’t suggest this far superior cloud work-around as a solution to my issues, because that is not addressing my issues.)

    5. Therefore, Apple is a horrible, no good, very bad company.

    Best wishes on your quest, Mr. Quixote!

  32. 32 32 Henri Hein

    I use an iPhone at work and have a Lumia for personal use. I honestly don’t understand how the iPhone became so ubiquitous. It’s a good product, sure, but the “don’t poke your fingers here” design philosophy is one of my many counts against. I much prefer the Lumia.

  33. 33 33 Capt. J Parker

    Dr. Landsberg – I feel your pain. There are still handfuls of hair stuck between the keys of the family PC from attempts to use iTunes with multiple windows 7 “users” and multiple iPods and then iPhones on a single PC. Now that the kids each have their own laptop the problem has been dispersed (yet, not solved). I know my own frustration stems from my dinosauric belief that when I hand over some hard earned cash for software or electronic media that I then actually own said software or electronic media. In truth, I am just renting it. Apple, Microsoft and Amazon retain full right, privilege and title to everything, including electronic media that I myself create and am foolish enough to place inside razor-wire-topped fences of their electronic estate. It’s almost (not quite but, almost) enough to make a grown man want to cry “market failure.”

  34. 34 34 Khodge

    A near OT comment: this is a lot like M$ which,every time they make something “easy” it becomes more difficult for those who know how to move around the system.

  35. 35 35 iceman

    The first law of economics is that resources are finite but demand for digital photos is infinite

  36. 36 36 BillD

    To copy photo files from PC to iPhone: set up a directory for transfers TO phone. Use iTunes to sync that directory. iTunes sucks, but it works once you figure out the quirks. Google “copy photos to iPhone” for more info.

    If you don’t want to use Dropbox or other cloud services, set up your own cloud. Buy a Synology NAS and use it’s cloud-like functionality. The iPhone workflow is the same as other cloud providers. The box sits in your closet or basement.

    Or go with Android and all of its limitations.

    Your cat will never be your dog.

  37. 37 37 JL

    Steven, your problem is solved precisely by cloud backup. Your paranoia about ‘trusting Apple with my personal files’ is a little unwarranted, given that from your description you obviously already do trust them with a lot of information about you, and you store your files on a device which they control using proprietary software that you cannot inspect and which may already be uploading your files to the cloud without your knowledge. If you really care that much about the privacy of your data, a rooted Android or other Linux-based phone with a custom-compiled kernel that you have personally inspected is really the only option. In the meantime, use client-side encryption to encode your files before storing them in the cloud, if you really don’t trust the cloud providers. (But how can you trust the client-side encryption app? Have you disassembled it?) No, Dropbox/Google employees cannot read your files if you store them in the cloud. Personally I use Google Drive. You don’t need to switch to Android, it runs fine on your iPhone. (Although the level of anti-Android bigotry in the comments is amusing.)

    Running a personal cloud using a NAS is an option, but to me it misses the point that a large company with dedicated systems and employees can preserve and back up your data much more reliably than you can. My days managing a periodic onsite-offsite backup strategy the whole time are over, I pay the professionals a pittance to do it for me. And they don’t mangle my filenames.

    And for iPhone users, the general rule is to use Apple’s hardware, use Google’s software on it and buy Amazon’s content. (Play to their strengths, avoid their weaknesses). Don’t go anywhere near iTunes, iCloud or any other Apple software beyond iOS. Apple simply doesn’t care how badly it works, they’ve already got your money.

  38. 38 38 Memc

    Wow, you really should get an Android. It’s so easy to do what you want (mount phone storage as USB drive).

    InfoTech is a prison, A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards and dungeons, an iPhone being one o’ the worst.

  39. 39 39 Sub Specie Æternitatis

    @JL #37 pretty much nailed it.

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